Tradition  of marriage

"marriage means a deep love of a man and a woman.

They can feel for each other and they are ready to live together as husband and wife."

         bullet.gif (803 bytes)Tradition of marriage has been highly important for Thai lifestyles and cultures. It indicates maturity of persons who are getting married, with more responsibilities and are ready to have a family. They must be responsible for more lives they would create and must act as a leader of the family. In writer's opinion, marriage means a deep love of a man and a woman. They can feel for each other and they are ready to live together as husband and wife. So they have to get married. In other way, it can be said that getting married can cure sexual desire of human. To follow the social practice, their guardian must be acknowledged. With the social reasons, the Thai tradition of wedding is essential. The ceremony starts from the approach, then engagement, and finally the wedding. To be ceremonious, the ritual must be performed in the morning. The registration for marriage license must be carried out to make the wedding completed. The ceremony for dashing holy water and blessing is performed in the evening, at the same time as the welcome banquet for guests afterwards. To be economic, these activities can all be carried out in the morning, The welcome banquet can be hold at home, hotels, or clubs, depending on financial capability of the host.

            The ritual wedding is important and appropriate because it represents prosperity of cultures and spirits of the society resulted from delicate mind of the perceptive Thai ancestors. Creatures naturally posses sexual desire and need to breed. Therefore, the difference between human and animals has to be made. At the same time, to suite Thai cultures and obey the law, the conditions for persons who are getting married are necessary.


bullet.gif (803 bytes)Conditions for marriage

1. Both parties must be at least 17 years old unless appropriate reasons authorized by Court. (Claus 1448).

2. Either one or both parties must not possess insanity or ordered by Court to be a person with incapability (Claus 1449).

3. Both parties must not be either in the same family or bled, regardless of law compatibility.

4. Foster child is not allowed to marry foster parent.

5. A married person is not allowed to remarry.

6. A widow can remarry only after

  • the marriage has been ended at least 310 days or
  • she, at the mean time, has already delivered her child or
  • she remarry to her ex-husband or
  • she possess a confirmation letter from a doctor, with degree or certificate, stating that she is not pregnant, and
  • she is authorized by court to remarry

7. The condition, Claus 1455, regarding the consent of parents or guardians (Claus 1436) states that the consent of marriage can be made by signing in the marriage registration. The parents' consent letter contains names of both getting-marry persons and signed by the persons who give consent. If truly necessary, verbal consent can be made before at least two witnesses. The signed consent letter cannot be withdrawn.

8. The marriage is legal only when the registration is completed.

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bullet.gif (803 bytes)Auspiciousness For the happiness and prosperity of bride and groom, The auspiciousness for the wedding is necessary. Relatives on both sides will take date and time of birth of bride and groom to the astrologer to find the appropriate auspiciousness and to foresee whether bride and groom suited to live together in happiness and prosperity. If so, the astrologer would select an auspicious time for the wedding. Most selected times are in the even months (2, 4,6 etc.). The word "even" is pronounced in Thai language as "Khu", which means "a couple or a mate". So the purpose of getting married in even month (or Khu month) is to wish both bride and groom would be living together forever. This does not include the 12th month because, in Thai belief, this month is the month for dogs to breed. The presence of the moon is also involved with this belief of auspiciousness. The waxing moon (the period from new moon to full moon), representing brightness and prosperity, is regarded better than the waning moon (the period from full moon to new moon), representing darkness. Sometimes the 9th month is selected because the "9", pronounced in Thai language as "Kao" meaning stepping ahead, represents prosperity. The most favorite month is the 6th month because it is the beginning of rainy season. The atmosphere is so perfect to be close to each other. Also, at this time, Thai people begin to practice agriculture. A newly married couple can build up their new family together.

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bullet.gif (803 bytes)Preparation for the settlement demand The settlement is essential for the marriage. The groom's parent must prepare the settlement and bring to the bride's home in the morning and at the selected auspicious time. However, the time for the parade of the settlement is not strict nowadays. Normally, people choose a time that is convenient for them. The settlement is consisted of ;

1. Primary settlement : Single or dual, depending on local culture. Mostly containing piper betel, money or gold as for bride's parent, auspicious elements such as beans, sesame, paddy, Bai tong(gold leaves) , Bai ngoen (silver leaves), Dok ruk (love flowers), Dok ban mai ru roey (forever lasting flower), Dok dowruang (shining star flowers), roses etc., which implicitly have auspicious meanings. These elements are prepared in pairs so that they look auspiciously beautiful, implied by the word "Khu" (a pair or a couple). In Kalasin, a province in the northeast of Thailand, the settlement is separated into two parts. One part contains money, regarded as cost for mother's milk, wrapped or packed with the amount of 49 Baht. The other part contains gold, bracelets, and engagement ring. Practically, there are two more parts of settlement containing piper betel, betel palm, and containing auspicious elements.

2. Secondary settlement. Containing food and candies, including other necessary elements such as liqueur, banana trees, and sugar cane stems. These elements are also prepared in pairs and beautifully decorated. The tradition at some places may not include general food but, instead, belly pork and candies that are to be used at the ceremony are preferred. This method is more flexible. Unforgettable elements are liqueur, banana trees, and sugar cane stems.

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     On the wedding day, the groom and his mates lead the parade of wedding settlements to the brides house. The brides relatives traditionally bar the path for 4 times. Two barriers represent golden gates, whereas the other two represent the silver gates.. Two barriers may be generally accepted. Golden necklace or silver belts are used to represent the barriers. The groom is traditionally greeted and questioned before he is allowed to pass each barrier. At the last barrier, just before entering or stepping into the house, there are two girls awaiting to traditionally sprinkle water to the grooms feet. The groom is supposed to pay money to persons who form the barrier. The traditional sprinkling water to the grooms feet is the last stage of the wedding settlement parade. Inside the brides house, it is an acceptance ceremony for the wedding settlement. The bride is traditionally supposed to pay the persons, who carry the primary and secondary settlement. Generally, it is emphasized in paying for the primary

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bullet.gif (803 bytes)The ceremony of sprinkle water This ceremony can be proceeded in various ways, regarding the hosts' convenience. The ceremony for sprinkle water is proceeded in the morning just after the ritual ceremony. Only respectful senior relatives are first invited, then the guests. The ceremony can be proceeded in the evening, regarding the guests' convenience. This concern is thoughtful because there are more traffic problems for people living in Bangkok than those living in provinces. Bride and groom should be at the ceremony well before the appointed time.

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                There must be an altar at the ceremony, for auspicious reasons. The altar is normally on the right of the groom. At the appointed auspicious time, the bride and groom would go into the ritual room together with 2 bride mates and 2 groom mates. After paying respect to the altar, the bride and groom would be sitting at a prepared bench, then place their arms on pillows and stretch their hands towards pedestals. The bride sits on the left and the groom sits on the right. The head of the ceremony wears each one a necklace of flowers and a pair of garland, then, anoints their foreheads, and sprinkle holy water on their hands. The guests were then invited to sprinkle holy water, starting from the most senior. After the ceremony of sprinkle water, the hosts can take off garland by themselves or invite the head of the ceremony to take it off for them. The bride and groom will kept this garland at their bed's head. Then there is a thanking party for guests. This concludes the wedding ceremony. They wait for the auspicious time to present the bride to the groom, as tradition. The senior relatives preach the bride to take care, to respect, and to be loyal to her husband. Then they bring the bride to the groom and preach the groom to love, to take care, to be loyal, and to treat his wife as a good husband. The bride and groom then pay obeisance to their senior relatives. Their parents could give them another homily. The groom would pay obeisance to both side parents. This concludes the marriage ceremony. Everybody then leaves the bride and groom's room in order to let them rest after having been through a tiring day.

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bullet.gif (803 bytes)The end of marriage The marriage ends when one party dies or there is a divorce. The reasons that can be excuses for getting divorce are;

1. If the wife is having an affair or the husband is treating other woman as equal as his legal wife, the spouse can sue requesting a divorce.

2. The husband or wife committed misconduct, against or not against the law, and cause serious humiliation or any unacceptable damages to the spouse, concerning their marriage status, can be a reason to sue requesting a divorce.

3. The husband or wife attacked or cause injury, physically or mentally, or insult the spouse or spouse's parent. If this incident is serious, it can be a reason for suing to request a divorce.

4. The husband or wife has intentionally left their spouse more than a year.

5. The husband or wife is announced disappeared by court orders.

6. The husband or wife has not been reasonably treated or has committed any behavior that seriously cause instability of their marriage. If this action cause unacceptable hardship to the spouse, concerning their marriage status, it can be a reason to sue requesting a divorce.

7. The husband or wife has been unrecoverable insane for more than three years, and this insanity causes unbearable life of marriage to their spouse.

8. The husband or wife broke the intact parole stating in the letter of conduct.

9. The husband or wife possesses any serious and incurable contagious disease that can infect and harm their spouse, it can be a reason to sue requesting a divorce.

            There are always problems in most family, more or less depending on the situation of that family. The incident of divorce can only happen when spouses lack of understanding and endurance, or they are committing adultery, or the relationship is interfered by the third party, or their estrangement, living together for months without sexual relationship as husband and wife, these incidents can all cause a divorce. In the present society, the unbalanced sexual relationship causes a lot of divorces. However, the spouse must try to keep their marriage status as long as possible to avoid to unwanted consequences, especially for the family and their children's mental health. With this reason, the tradition of marriage must be seriously taken to preserve and well studied in order to keep this culture to last forever. The family is the first unit in the society that can most effectively cultivate social believes, traditions, and cultures. So, before we are to create a new family, we need to understand that how many types of marriage how each type of marriage works because marriage is, as mentioned before, the way to create a family.

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bullet.gif (803 bytes) Types of marriage: several experts have acknowledged two types of marriage, namely, Wiwahamongkol and Awahamongkol. But since the Thai society and human's mind have changed as time goes by. Individual concerns only the profit for them, not the society. The consequence is selfishness, presently causing chaos in Thai society. In the writer's opinion, the additional type of marriage is that both people, without permission from their parents, flee to set their own family, so called Wiwahor (Wiwa = marriage, hor = flee). This type of marriage is widely conducted in Thai society at present, which is not appropriated because it does not follow our exquisite Thai culture.

  1. Wiwamongkol is the really Thai traditional marriage. The wedding ceremony is held at the bride's home. After the ceremony is completed, the groom will be living with the bride's family i.e. father in-law and mother in-law. This type is popular in rural area or conservative family, which consider the traditional way is right, good, and accepted by the society. For newer generation, young people require more freedom, not to live with their parents after marriage because they want to be a leader of the family so they would be prouder. With this reason, in present Thai society, single family is more preferable than expanded family.
  2. Awahamongkol is the Chinese or Indian style, which the bride must go to the groom's home for the wedding ceremony. After they already got married, the wife must live with the husband's family. Thai women do not like this type of marriage because they lack of freedom, unlike living with her own parent. However, some women may like this way, regarding the necessity and suitability of the social status. If the groom's family is wealthy and well known in the society whereas the bride's family is not that rich then she, therefore, voluntarily come to live with the groom's family, provided that the groom's parent do not dislike her and the groom does not have too many relatives.
  3. Wiwahomongkol is not a ceremonial and unauthorized marriage. Both man and woman agree to live together as husband and wife with only love and understanding. So it is not necessary to hold the wedding at either the woman's home or the man's home. This type of marriage resulted from the dislike between the two families, the contradiction, or the failure to reach an agreement. But since the two people love each other, so they are forced to flee to start their own family independent from both parents' family. After they have a baby, they will come back for forgiveness from their parents. If parents see that they can happily create a new family on their own, forgiveness is always possible. However, according to Thai tradition, this type of marriage is hardly acceptable by parents and Thai society. In contrary, it is a simple and economic marriage since it does not have to spend on unnecessary elements. Inevitably, they have to admit the marriage registration in order to legalize their marriage. This type of marriage is considerably better than living together before they get married, which each person can just leave, without obligation, if he/she find that they cannot truly get along each other. Some people favor this type of marriage. Some couples do not actually flee from their parents, they just live together without telling their parents'. However, their marriage are legally registered.

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Translator : Aketawan Manowongsa
24 Nov 2000